Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities – response from foundations to the Prime Minister

A number of members have contacted us recently to express their concerns about the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which came out just before Easter. The way the report was presented appears to downplay the impact of racism in society and runs counter to the evidence from many foundations’ work and that of the partners they work with, particularly from communities experiencing racial inequity.

A group of members has been working up a joint letter to the Prime Minister (who commissioned the report) and ACF has been coordinating sign-up. The letter is below, along with the current list of foundations who have signed up. Foundations generally don’t often sign letters like this, so it shows the level of concern that 60 have signed. 

The letter calls on the PM to publicly affirm a commitment to actively tackle racism in all its forms wherever it is found and to make clear that the Government does not agree with narratives that deny the harm caused by racism in society.

The letter has now been sent to the Prime Minister but we are still adding names of foundations who would like to sign up. Please contact if you want to be added. 

Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing St
London SW1A 2AA

19 April 2021

Dear Prime Minister

Response from charitable foundations to the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities

We are writing to you as a group of foundations and grant-making charities based and operating in the UK.  We are independent, non-political organisations, with charitable missions aimed at addressing many of the disparities and injustices present in the UK. We have been moved to come together to respond to the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities because of serious concerns about the presentation of its findings.  

The history of our organisations reflects the wider history of Britain. We recognise that this joint history is connected to inequitable power structures, including racism, and that these structures still have repercussions today on people of colour and marginalised people in the UK. As institutions, we know we have more to do to be equitable and to include and reflect the diverse communities in our society. We have not always got this right ourselves but we are clear in our commitment to stand against racism in all its forms – covert and overt; individual and institutional. We believe there is no place for any level of racism in a fair and just society.

We therefore welcome attempts to better understand the ways in which race, class and culture interrelate. However, the report’s downplaying of the impact of racism and comments from the Chair that the review did not find actual evidence of institutional racism are at odds with the evidence from our own work. Our partners and communities who face racism have been unduly dismissed and their lived experiences denied by the way that the report’s conclusions have been presented. We believe this to be unhelpful, divisive and potentially damaging to much of the work we and our partners passionately drive towards to create a fairer society. Without a clear acknowledgment of the problem, building towards progress will be impossible, damaging the future lives and prosperity of all in our country. 

While the report is disappointing in many respects, evidence within it does highlight the work that is needed across the board.  Collective action to address structural and institutional racism (and all forms of discrimination) is needed. This action should centre around the voice and experiences of those who – despite having contributed much to our society – face the most disadvantage. It should place value on the nuanced perspectives people with lived experience of these issues provide.

The current Covid-19 pandemic has provided the Government with a point of reflection, highlighting the clear structural issues, including structural and institutional racism, that prevent all members of our nation achieving their full potential and accessing the best outcomes. Levelling up should not mean a choice between action against racism and action to improve life chances within differing classes, instead it requires action on both (and their intersections) to be truly successful. 

The Government’s ambitions to level up the country and provide the conditions for all people to thrive are welcome. But we call on you to publicly affirm your commitment to actively tackling racism in all its forms wherever it is found. We are looking to you to make clear you do not agree with narratives that deny the harm caused by racism in our society. For our part we will remain resolute and continue to drive towards a just society that tackles racism, discrimination and disadvantage and values everyone equally. We look forward to your response.  

Yours sincerely

Carol Mack OBE
Chief Executive
Association of Charitable Foundations

Seb Elsworth
Chief Executive
Access – the Foundation for Social Investment 

Lindsey Anderson
The Alan and Babette Sainsbury Charitable Fund

Kevin Mitchell
All Saints Educational Trust

Simon Chaplin
Chief Executive Officer
Arcadia: A charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin

Sarah Butler-Sloss
Settlor and Chair
The Ashden Trust

David Cutler
The Baring Foundation

Sara Llewellin
Chief Executive
Barrow Cadbury Trust

Jo Wells
Blagrave Trust

Anthony Tomei
The Bonnart Trust 

Joseph Howes
Chief Executive Officer
Buttle UK

Sarah Davidson
Chief Executive
Carnegie United Kingdom Trust

Dr Sophie Flemig
Chief Executive

Dr Lucy Rawson
The Clothworkers’ Foundation

Melanie Griffiths

Samir Patel
Chief Executive
Comic Relief

Síofra Healy
Director of Philanthropy  
Community Foundation for Northern Ireland

Rob Williamson
Chief Executive
Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland

Nick Crofts
Chief Executive
Co-op Foundation

Carolyn Sawers
Acting Chief Executive
Corra Foundation

Sarah Benioff
Cripplegate Foundation

Amanda Critchlow Horning
The Elmgrant Trust

Caroline Mason
Chief Executive
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Lynne Peabody
Acting Chief Executive
EY Foundation 

Danielle Walker Palmour
Foundation Director
Friends Provident Foundation

Philippa Charles
Garfield Weston Foundation

Rebecca Hanshaw
Executive Director
Global Fund for Women UK

Eva Rehse
Executive Director
Global Greengrants Fund UK 

Kieron Boyle
Chief Executive
Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation

Victoria Hill
Chief Executive
Hammersmith United Charities

Derek J Humphrey
The Hockerill Foundation

Francesca Perrin
Settlor and Chair
The Indigo Trust

Lilli Geissendorfer
Jerwood Arts

Alex Jacobs
Joffe Charitable Trust

Dr Lynne Guyton FRSA
Chief Executive Officer
John Lyon’s Charity

James Fitzpatrick
Joseph Levy Foundation

Celia McKeon
Chief Executive
Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

Paul Kissack
Chief Executive
Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Laura F. Redman
Head (Acting) of Justice Together Initiative
Justice Collaborations

Julian Corner,
Chief Executive
Lankelly Chase Foundation

Kate Hainsworth
Chief Executive
Leeds Community Foundation and GiveBradford

Matthew Smerdon
Chief Executive
The Legal Education Foundation 

Paul Streets
Chief Executive
Lloyds Bank Foundation

Andrew Wright
Lund Trust

Andrew Lane
The Manor 2056 Trust

Mark Sainsbury
Settlor and Chair
The Mark Leonard Trust 

Ian Revell
Chief Executive
Milton Keynes Community Foundation

Jane Long
Acting Chair
MTVH Migration Foundation

Moira Sinclair OBE
Chief Executive
Paul Hamlyn Foundation

John Hume
Chief Executive
People's Health Trust

Laura Solomons
The Peter Minet Trust

Christine Oliver
Trust Secretary
The Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation

Vidhya Alakeson
Chief Executive
Power to Change

David Sanderson MBE DL
Chief Executive
The Rank Foundation

Dr Jim McCormick
Chief Executive
The Robertson Trust 

Ruth Hollis
Chief Executive
Spirit of 2012 

Jessica Sainsbury
Settlor and Chair
The Staples Trust

James Sainsbury
Settlor and Chair
The Tedworth Charitable Trust

Clare Sainsbury
Settlor and Chair
The Three Guineas Trust

Christopher Graves
The Tudor Trust

Lucy Sainsbury
Settlor and Chair
The True Colours Trust 

Bharat Mehta
Chief Executive
Trust for London

Thomas Lawson
Chief Executive

Camilla Woodward
Settlor and Chair
The Woodward Charitable Trust 

Elizabeth Breeze
Zephyr Charitable Trust

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